Lustmord - The Socialist Realist

Lustmord - The Socialist Realist

Written By:

Gabriel Leașcu


June 7, 2018

Brian Williams aka Lustmord recently played in Berlin at the The Long Now festival in Berlin’s infamous Kraftwerk building. He was the last to perform after almost 30 hours of live acts and improv sessions, from names like The Necks, Collin Stetson, Robert Aiki Lowe, Tomoko Sauvage and Melanie Velarde.

Unlike public perception might suggest, Lustmord is proving to be a rational individual, with a rich sense of humour, doing his thing for the past 30 years and trying like all of us to make sense of today’s hectic world, just as Theodor Adorno notes in his Theses Against Occultism that "the veiled tendency of society towards disaster lulls its victims in a false revelation, with a hallucinated phenomenon. In vain they hope in its fragmented blatancy to look their total doom in the eye and withstand it. Panic breaks once again, after millennia of enlightenment, over a humanity whose control of nature as control of men far exceeds in horror anything men ever had to fear from nature."

The Attic caught up with Lustmord to find out more about his creative process, what are his political views and why he thinks of himself as a socialist-realist.

I never deliberately joined any kind of organization. I don't like dogma or rules. I am talking about that need people have to join a group and feel special. I think that people who join groups tend to be not that interesting.

2. Creative Process

The Long Noew 2018 @ Kraftwerk, Berlin. photo credits: Gabriel Leașcu
The Long Noew 2018 @ Kraftwerk, Berlin. photo credits: Gabriel Leașcu

Please tell me about your process when creating.

For an album I have very specific ideas. However, when playing live, I just have an idea about the beginning and the end, like a journey bringing you here and taking you back again. Also, as lives are mostly improvised, I prepare many things, but I am never sure about what or how I’ll put them together. So I just start playing and if it’s not working, I change it. But you don’t know if it’s working or not until you are actually doing it. It’s just feeling. At Maerzmusik festival will be a different experience for me without the visuals. Also, the visuals are on the hard drive and it’s a set length, so everything has to end by a certain time.

Did you study the acoustics before?

No. I played above a mine in Sweden and in three churches. Also fun. Well, maybe not fun, it’s just a different atmosphere. But when I played above the mine in Sweden it was crazy. The guys responsible with the sound were doing it part-time. They had great sound and they were theoretical physicists. They spend a week measuring the space with their computers. A team of top nerds, which I think is a compliment, because if you’re going to be a nerd, be extreme.

Did the information help you in that case?

Well, the sound wouldn’t have been that great if they weren’t there. They were calibrating all the sound system. That is very unusual. Of course, there are too many variables. However, let’s say you did measure a space, but then you have 200 people in there, which changes everything. So you just do a show and hope for the best. It’s not like you don’t try. You talk with the sound guys and work together to get the best sound possible, but, ultimately, you just hope for the best. It’s a live show so, by nature, it is imperfect, but you should try to make it as good as possible. I also think that a live can consist of all sorts of random things that could make it great or the opposite.

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3. Collaborations

Lustmord. photo credits: Gabriel Leașcu
Lustmord. photo credits: Gabriel Leașcu

I know you had some collaborations. What are your future plans in this sense?

I have something, but things keep changing and so does the schedule. But I would really like to collaborate with Atom™. Besides, we are both busy doing other things all the time. He is a really nice guy and he is also really funny. I haven’t seen him in a while. I really enjoy working with friends, and when I say this it’s either someone you are already friends with or you become friends in the process of working together. I like this kind of relationships; it’s very friendly, as opposed to academic.

I did an album with this rock band called Melvins, which was very different from my music. But, at the same time, we are on the same side. We understand each other’s music and I can say that was a great collaboration because it was so different. As I’ve been doing my music for a long time, there are people that copy the things that I do, while others just want to work with me. I ask myself: why do this, if I can just do it by myself? But when something like the Melvins comes around, that is really interesting.

What would you think about collaborating in a live show with Stephen O’Malley, for example?

Well, what if I told you I played live with Stephen O’Malley 5 or 6 years ago? We were doing a festival in Sweden where I was playing last and Stephen O’Malley was playing the night before me. We arranged to meet each other and decided that, since we were at the same festival, we should play together and have some fun, without telling anybody. So, we asked the organizers if we could do a show. The idea was that Stephen would do his show and then I would come at the end and we would do something for 40-60 minutes. I knew people would be surprised, so I made a tweet just before going up on stage and people were really excited. It also was fun because it was improvised and we also got to grab some beers after the show.

4. Films, Post-Industrial and Influences

Some artists benefited from publicity. However, you remained in the same zone. Do you still consider yourself an underground artist? What do you think about this term?

It’s not a bad question, though I never really considered myself underground. I am not underground, but I am still obscure. Well, if we turn around and ask these people, nobody knows about me. So I am not exactly well-known. I am the same person, doing the same things. But I am not really underground, rather I’ve always been on the outside. It’s interesting because I ended up working on films.

Speaking of which, you had some projects in Hollywood, over 50 films. Do you separate personas when working?

No, because I am the same person. However, it depends on the project. Sometimes you are paid to work on a project they want you to do it, while it is a job. Although it happens to be music or movie, it’s still a job; you are working to get paid. So your job is to do what the people paying you want, not what you want, even though you might disagree. The idea is to do your best work from a creative point of view. You give them want they want. Some want me to bring my sound in their project, which is more interesting and gives you more freedom. I happen to do my own music and I’ve been lucky enough to also have a job from making music, which is a privileged position to be in, considering there are periods when there is no work and no money. However, I still have the same approach. Obviously, it is a different discipline, as you are working with somebody else. I also say ‘no’ a lot, too. There was a time when I would say ‘yes’ more often, because of money. I’ve worked in a lot of movies and some of them were hugely successful, box office no 1, but they are still not that good. I’ve also worked on video games or on projects that sold millions. When you work on a video game, you know that millions of people play that game. They didn’t buy the game because I worked on it, they bought it because they wanted to play the game. Very few played the game because of me, while few noticed the music. It is ironic that, as I’m doing my own music, there are people that enjoy it. However, in the case of the video game, millions played it, thus, millions heard the music, but they don’t know and they don’t care. But that’s fine.

Are you up to date with the current post-industrial techno scene? Take for example Berlin, a city filled with artists, some probably influenced by you.

Not now, if you are talking about Berlin. Of course, I am very aware of Basic Channel and Chain Reaction. However, when it comes to post-industrial music, I am not that excited, as in its current state, it has nothing to do with industrial. Best scenario, I see them as rock bands with samplers. I know the people who originally did this industrial music, while the person who came up with the term is my oldest friend. What people now call industrialised has nothing to do with how it was back then. Now it is a fashion or a style, a uniform. It wasn’t about that; it was about ideas and innovation. There are also a lot of things influenced by it, with some of them being really interesting, while some are not. I am talking about approaches from the 80s which were really bad, like sample based rock music that was called industrial. Teri Bristol, for example, was a very interesting project, as it was about more than one thing. Then, people came on and copied bands like Cabaret Voltaire. Years later we were going to early hip-hop shows, and I remember seeing Run-DMC live, with huge sound and beats. This was much closer to industrial than the bands who would call themselves industrial. Early hip-hop was experimenting with the sounds, while it also exploited other concept of interest that meant something, such as poverty, racism and hardship. Electronic hip-hop focuses on other aspects, more superficial, such as money and a sense of meaningless competition, which I find boring. But there was a time when it was really interesting. Coming back, Basic Channel had an interesting approach to what was going on and some of them were very influenced by industrial. For me, it was much closer to real industrial music than the so called industrial music. Maybe they were not aware of it, but it was coming from the same place. Not just the music, but the way of doing it, distribution, contact and the network of people were on the same side, as opposed to the current fashion. Now, I have to admit that I lost track of what is happening. I think techno it’s like hip-hop. I noticed all the interesting things out there, it just happens that I don’t know what they are, but there is so much of it. So, as I said, it’s like hip-hop: it’s easy to do badly. There is a lot of really bad techno, which unfortunately makes it difficult to filter through this vast data. But I am interested in what is going right now.

Was Klaus Schulze’s album Irrlicht an influence for Lustmord?

I’m not familiar with the album, but I am familiar with some of his work. I wasn’t hearing the music, because if I’ve listened to that album maybe I would have never made my own music. Actually, this was the main idea in my creation, that I wasn’t hearing the music, so I created it myself. This is really ironic, because when I create music I don’t listen to my own tracks.

A big influence was from Throbbing Gristle who I also saw live a few times. This is a story that I am happy to talk about. I became friends with them and they encouraged me to do this myself, rather than going to their shows. So I started shaping some ideas and they wanted to hear them. They heard and they also sent them to other people and, as such, I ended up releasing a record. But as far as the music I am doing, I am happy to do it for myself. It was never really important for me what other people think.

5. Unknown Secrets of the Universe

I can see that you are a fun guy and you have a sense of humor, but your music is reaching an abominable point. Do you see yourself as an existentialist? What do you think about this overused 'dark' term describing some of your work?

That is interesting, but even though, I can talk philosophically about various subjects, I don’t analyze myself in these terms. I am not that introspective. I just go with my feelings. Regarding my music I don't consider it dark. I have been doing this for a very long time and this ‘dark’ thing keeps coming up. People still use this term, which used to annoy me, but now I don’t really care. However, I come from a more primal sound, slow and low, but not dark. When people listen to it, they experience things. So, in this light, I think it speaks more about them, than it does about me. They are picking up on things and end up in a dark place, but nobody forces them to do so. But, as I said, for me it is a deeper thing, a primordial sound, which maybe makes some feel uneasy. Let’s say my sound goes to a dark place, but it holds a light in that darkness, such as highlighting something that you wouldn’t feel or hear unless you put a light on it.

I see it as mature, rooting an analogy with the unknown secrets of the universe.

Exactly! I see in it this cosmic scale, reflecting the universal enormity, which we cannot comprehend. We exist in this vast, unimaginable space, as either the only intelligent form of life, which is mind bottling, or we are not the only ones, which is also mind bottling. Either way, we will probably never know. I find really interesting exploring this concept of ‘insignificance.’ As a species, we like to think of ourselves as being really important, but when you consider the bigger cosmic picture we are totally insignificant, meaningless. This, I think, led the way to religion, which helps people to not be aware of this state. I like to capture this in my sounds.

I know that you are an atheist. Do you have any rituals of your own, such as superstitions or meditation before an event, considering the ritualistic nature of your music?

Yes, my music has this character, but no, I don’t have any rituals or anything similar. I have never been a ritual person, it never was my psyche. Going to my comment as being on the outside, I can say I have always been on the outside, as I have never been the person to join things or be part of a scene. However, sometimes you become part of a scene, not because you join it, but because somebody else decides, such as a journalist. I never deliberately joined any kind of organization. I don’t like dogma or rules. Feels like going back to school. I am talking about that need people have to join a group and feel special. I think that people who join groups tend to be not that interesting.

6. Politics

Lustmord. Photo credits:
Lustmord. Photo credits:

What about political views?

I am more of a leftist. I actually call myself a socialist-realist, because, at core, I am a socialist. However, there is also a realistic aspect in this view, as you also have to be practical. I am a socialist because I wish everybody would have health care and a good education, or taking care of those who cannot tend for themselves. I guess it is related to the way I am as an individual; I like to treat others the way I like to be treated myself.

Do you believe in universal basic income and such ideas and if so, how far would you go to support them?

That is why I consider myself a socialist-realist. Ideally, I believe in this concept, but how do you make it work? However, in this sense of sharing, there are those wealthy people who worked really hard, so they deserve what they have and it is quite unfair to take it from them. When we talk about this subject we approach its extreme nature, as we currently are in this state where the wealth belongs to a small group of people. Most people agree this is wrong. But with great wealth comes great power, which further highlights that this small group also has a great political power and a great influence.

But as far as fascists, some people speak through violence and rule by force, which is not acceptable. Take for example Berlin, where if some individuals would propagate Nazi ideas, people would protest against them, they would fight. Meanwhile, a part of the media would say that the protesters represent the left side, when they are actually individuals.

It’s about the right to march and the right to protest, which have always been acts through which people try to stop others. This is allowed to a certain point, however, without using violence. As such, the recent events are a result of the people who support Trump and the empowerment they feel, so they resort to violence and guns. Equally, the other side reacts. So, if you are going to act out and hurt people, you have to be prepared for the consequences. In this case, somebody has to stand up to it.

Yes, but if you act through similar means it only widens the existing gap between the two groups.

Yes, but this is the case for extreme situations. For example, if 800 people in America marched for the Ku Klux Klan, thousands of people would protest. In the Trump case, there are much more people against. There has always been fighting, but now people feel more empowered. They have active trainings and guns, which is very provocative. How do you respond? Of course, you always approach the peaceful methods. However, it has to be line. It’s not the world I want to live in, but here are also a lot of people who support marriage between the same sex or consider persons with a different skin color their equals. Also, you are allowed to have extreme views about these things and speak about them. You are allowed to march against or for these things, but when you start hurting others, we have to stand up together and fight back. History illustrates these situations. For example, in the 70s, in Britain, the economy was terrible and fascism was growing. The skinheads were a working class who were listening to music. There were also black skinheads. That look was taken over by the fascists. So, the original skinheads were not fascists. Anyway, these little skinhead groups would sell their Nazi stuff and they were actually beating up and harassing Pakistani business owners. You could also see them with their pamphlets. We didn’t want such people around, so when we saw them we would try to persuade them to go somewhere else. Unfortunately, sometimes you can only persuade by force, but I am fine with that. The people that used to hang with Jamaicans just gave up the fashion style. It was not like the skinheads moved from a point to another. There were these guys who listened to Jamaican music and were skinheads. At the same, there were Nazis who started dressing like skinheads. As a result, the people who were skinheads no longer dressed like skinheads to avoid the association.


*main photo credits: Tas Limur

About the Author

Gabriel Leașcu

Studied anthropology but interested in anything unrelated to academia, loves long walks in other people’s minds.

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